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Special Issue "Policy mixes for resource efficiency – conceptual issues, design and assessment challenges"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 January 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Ms. Francesca Montevecchi

Institute for Managing Sustainability, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Resource Efficiency, Waste Management, Sustainable Development
Guest Editor
Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers

Ecologic Institute, Berlin, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Resource Efficiency, Environmental Policy, Sustainable Development
Guest Editor
Dr. Tomas Ekvall

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, PO Box 5302, 400 14, Göteborg, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Resource Efficiency, Environmental Impact Assessment, Ecodesign
Guest Editor
Ms. Martha Bicket

Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Resource efficiency, Social Development, Sustainable Development
Guest Editor
Mr. Patrick ten Brink

Institute for European Environmental Policy, IEEP, Belgium
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Resource Efficiency, Environmental Policy, Green economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the 1950s the global consumption of natural resources has skyrocketed, both in magnitude and in the range of resources used. Closely coupled with emissions of greenhouse gases, land consumption, pollution of environmental media, and degradation of ecosystems, as well as with economic development, increasing resource use is a key issue to be addressed in order to keep the planet Earth in a safe and just operating space. This requires thinking about absolute reductions in resource use and associated environmental impacts, and, when put in the context of current re-focusing on economic growth at the European level, absolute decoupling, i.e., maintaining economic development while absolutely reducing resource use and associated environmental impacts.

Changing behavioural, institutional and organisational structures that lock-in unsustainable resource use is, thus, a formidable challenge as existing world views, social practices, infrastructures, as well as power structures, make initiating change difficult. Hence, policy mixes are needed that will target different drivers in a systematic way.

When designing policy mixes for decoupling, the effect of individual instruments on other drivers and on other instruments in a mix should be considered and potential negative effects be mitigated. This requires smart and time-dynamic policy packaging.

This Special Issue aims at investigating the following research questions: What is decoupling and how does it relate to resource efficiency and environmental policy? How can we develop and realize policy mixes for decoupling economic development from resource use and associated environmental impacts? And how can we do this in a systemic way, so that all relevant dimensions and linkages—including across economic and social issues, such as production, consumption, transport, growth and wellbeing­—are taken into account?

In addressing these questions, the overarching goals of this Special Issue are: to address the challenges related to more sustainable resource-use, to contribute to the development of successful policy tools and practices for sustainable development and resource efficiency, (particularly through the exploration of socio-economic, scientific, and integrated aspects of sustainable development), and, finally, to inform policy debates and policy-making.

More specifically, this Special Issue aims to:

  • Discuss and deepen scientific knowledge on the concept of policy mixes in the context of system analysis methods, including resource efficiency, circular economy, life cycle assessment, and absolute decoupling;
  • Contribute further scientific knowledge on the relevance of shifting socio-political paradigms from growth to well-being, but also in terms of production and consumption patterns;
  • Highlight (methodological) challenges and options for assessing cumulative effects of policy mixes vs. individual instruments in resource policy;
  • Present and analyse practical applications of policy mixes that were designed to achieve (absolute) decoupling by highlighting challenges in the delivery phase and the governance mechanisms, and how to overcome them.
  • Present and discuss findings of (ex-ante and ex-post) assessments of decoupling policy mixes in the light of environmental economics,
  • Discuss the need, limitations and options for policy making and governance mechanisms to think in longer-term, time-sequencing integration of policy instruments and related policy objectives.

The Special Issue will draw on findings from the EU and other countries to offer lessons of international relevance for policy mixes for more sustainable resource-use, with findings of interest to policy makers in central and local government and NGOs, decision makers in business, academics, researchers, and scientists.

About the scope of the special issues:

The special issue invites submissions covering the following topics:

  • Conceptual foundations of policy mixes in the context of resource efficiency and sustainable development (e.g., what is distinctive of a policy mix and how to design effective policy packages?)
  • Examples of successful applications of policy mixes on resource efficiency and decoupling: Exploration of practical implications and effects (e.g.: burden shifts, rebound effects), as well as new types of interactions occurring between the environmental, social and economic dimension.
  • Conceptual foundations of absolute decoupling and paradigm shifts in the context of natural resource use and environmental management (e.g., in terms of shifting from growth to well-being as the dimension to decouple resource use and environmental impacts from)
  • Methodological challenges and options for assessing policy mixes’ effects vs. those of individual instruments
  • Qualitative, quantitative or combined ex-ante or ex-post assessments of decoupling policy mixes in relation to environmental, economic and/or social impacts (e.g., modelling results of econometric, economic, system dynamic and environmental model simulations; qualitative impact assessments; impacts on decoupling objectives, on the labour market; distributive impacts);
  • Analyses of policy frameworks, limitations and potential changes needed to enable wider application of policy mix thinking.

Timeline:

Ideally, the DYNAMIX Special Issue will stick to the following timeline:
. Submission of abstracts (maximum 500 words): 30 September 2015. Please send your abstract to Francesca (Francesca.montevecchi@wu.ac.at) by email for internal selection of full paper invitations.
. Response to authors on abstracts: 18 October 2015
. Submission of invited articles (full drafts): 15 January 2016

We cordially invite to submit contributions within cited topic.

Ms. Francesca Montevecchi
Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers
Dr. Tomas Ekvall
Ms. Martha Bicket
Mr. Patrick ten Brink
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Absolute decoupling
  • Resource efficiency
  • Policy mixes

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Policies for a More Dematerialized EU Economy. Theoretical Underpinnings, Political Context and Expected Feasibility
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 717; doi:10.3390/su8080717
Received: 9 February 2016 / Revised: 1 July 2016 / Accepted: 12 July 2016 / Published: 28 July 2016
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Abstract
Economic systems are connected to the natural environment through a continuous flow of energy and materials. The production of economic wealth implies the use of natural resources and their transformation into goods (bound to become, at least partially, waste in the future), current
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Economic systems are connected to the natural environment through a continuous flow of energy and materials. The production of economic wealth implies the use of natural resources and their transformation into goods (bound to become, at least partially, waste in the future), current waste (pollution) and low-valued energy (entropy). The scarcity of natural resources and the negative externalities arising from their use throughout the entire value chain are quite natural motivations for the current policy push towards a more dematerialized and a more circular economy. In this perspective, the EU seems to be approaching a new frontier in environmental policy. The main contribution of this paper is a qualitative assessment of a coordinated set of dematerialization policies, which aim at fostering the socially efficient use (and re-use) of virgin materials at firm level. The policy mix we propose envisages a green tax reform (GTR) with a material tax, which aims at shifting relative input prices in favour of labour and capital, and a policy of funding research and development activities in the area of resource efficiency. In order to support firms in their transition to higher material efficiency, we foresee targeted skill enhancement programmes. Finally, to prevent firms to shift towards less material-intensive production, potentially leading to lower output quality, we complete the policy mix with specific command-and-control measures, aiming at setting minimum quality standards for selected product categories. The qualitative assessment of this mix of policies relies on the four basic criteria of the economic policy analysis (effectiveness, efficiency, equity and feasibility). Since the EU is deeply integrated in the world economy, and it is a net importer of virgin resources, our policy evaluation necessarily takes an open-economy perspective. In this vein, the paper reviews the state of affairs of the major world countries (USA, Japan and China in particular) on this issue, and contextualizes the EU action in a global perspective. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Role of Paradigm Analysis in the Development of Policies for a Resource Efficient Economy
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 645; doi:10.3390/su8070645
Received: 8 February 2016 / Revised: 23 June 2016 / Accepted: 29 June 2016 / Published: 8 July 2016
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Abstract
Policy makers are often called upon to navigate between scientists’ urgent calls for long-term concerted action to reduce the environmental impacts due to resource use, and the public’s concerns over policies that threaten lifestyles or jobs. Against these political challenges, resource efficiency policy
[...] Read more.
Policy makers are often called upon to navigate between scientists’ urgent calls for long-term concerted action to reduce the environmental impacts due to resource use, and the public’s concerns over policies that threaten lifestyles or jobs. Against these political challenges, resource efficiency policy making is often a changeable and even chaotic process, which has fallen short of the political ambitions set by democratically elected governments. This article examines the importance of paradigms in understanding how the public collectively responds to new policy proposals, such as those developed within the project DYNAmic policy MiXes for absolute decoupling of environmental impact of EU resource use from economic growth (DYNAMIX). The resulting proposed approach provides a framework to understand how different concerns and worldviews converge within public discourse, potentially resulting in paradigm change. Thus an alternative perspective on how resource efficiency policy can be development is proposed, which envisages early policies to lay the ground for future far-reaching policies, by altering the underlying paradigm context in which the public receive and respond to policy. The article concludes by arguing that paradigm change is more likely if the policy is conceived, framed, designed, analyzed, presented, and evaluated from the worldview or paradigm pathway that it seeks to create (i.e., the destination paradigm). Full article
Open AccessArticle From Waste Management to Resource Efficiency—The Need for Policy Mixes
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 622; doi:10.3390/su8070622
Received: 2 February 2016 / Revised: 15 June 2016 / Accepted: 27 June 2016 / Published: 1 July 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Treating waste as a resource and the design of a circular economy have been identified as key approaches for resource efficiency. Despite ambitious targets, policies and instruments that would enable a transition from a conventional waste management to an integrated and comprehensive resource
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Treating waste as a resource and the design of a circular economy have been identified as key approaches for resource efficiency. Despite ambitious targets, policies and instruments that would enable a transition from a conventional waste management to an integrated and comprehensive resource management are still missing. Moreover, this will require innovative policy mixes which do not only address different end-of-pipe approaches but integrate various resource efficiency aspects from product design to patterns of production and consumption. Based on the results of a project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development named “POLFREE—Policy Options for a resource efficient economy”, this paper addresses several aspects of the conceptualization of policy mixes with regard to waste as a specific resource efficiency challenge. The guiding research interest of this paper is the combination of policies necessary to create a full circular economy. In a first step, the present waste policy frameworks, institutions and existing incentives at national level are examined in order to disclose regulatory and policy gaps. Based on this, the second part of the paper describes and analyses specific waste-related resource efficiency instruments with regard to their potential impacts under the constraints of various barriers. Based on the assessment of the country analyses and the innovative instruments, the paper draws conclusions on waste policy mixes and political needs. Full article
Open AccessArticle Policy Mixes to Achieve Absolute Decoupling: An Ex Ante Assessment
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 528; doi:10.3390/su8060528
Received: 9 February 2016 / Revised: 27 May 2016 / Accepted: 31 May 2016 / Published: 2 June 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (405 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One approach to reducing the environmental costs of economic activity is to design and implement policies that aim at decoupling economic activity from its environmental impacts. Such a decoupling requires an economy-wide approach to policy-making, through broad mixes of policy instruments that create
[...] Read more.
One approach to reducing the environmental costs of economic activity is to design and implement policies that aim at decoupling economic activity from its environmental impacts. Such a decoupling requires an economy-wide approach to policy-making, through broad mixes of policy instruments that create the right framework conditions for decoupling, and which provide coherent and consistent signals to resource-using sectors of the economy. This article summarizes the ex ante qualitative environmental assessment of three policy mixes (over-arching, metals, and land use) developed within the DYNAMIX project, highlighting their potential impacts on raw material extraction, greenhouse gas emissions, land use, freshwater use, and biodiversity (parallel assessments addressed economic and social impacts, and governance issues). Whilst the environmental assessments largely identified positive impacts, some policies had potential for minor negative impacts. The key challenges for undertaking such an assessment are identified (including uncertainty, baseline accuracy, the differing nature and scope of policies, policy flexibility, and the challenges of implementing volume control policies). Finally, some conclusions and lessons for policy-makers are presented, to contribute to the development of future policies and improve the reliability of future environmental assessments of policy mixes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Evidence of Absolute Decoupling from Real World Policy Mixes in Europe
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 517; doi:10.3390/su8060517
Received: 8 February 2016 / Revised: 20 May 2016 / Accepted: 24 May 2016 / Published: 30 May 2016
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Abstract
In resource economics, decoupling from environmental impacts is assumed to be beneficial. However, the success of efforts to increase resource productivity should be placed within the context of the earth’s resources and ecosystems as theoretically finite and contingent on a number of threshold
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In resource economics, decoupling from environmental impacts is assumed to be beneficial. However, the success of efforts to increase resource productivity should be placed within the context of the earth’s resources and ecosystems as theoretically finite and contingent on a number of threshold values. Thus far relatively few analyses exist of policies which have successfully implemented strategies for decoupling within these limits. Through ex-post evaluation of a number of real world policy mixes from European Union member states, this paper further develops definitions of the concept of decoupling. Beyond absolute (and relative) decoupling, “absolute decoupling within limits” is proposed as an appropriate term for defining resource-productivity at any scale which respects the existing real world limits on resources and ecosystems and as such, contributes to meeting sustainability objectives. Policy mixes presented here cover a range of resources such as fish stocks, fertilizers, aggregates and fossil based materials (plastics). Policy mixes demonstrating absolute decoupling and at least one where absolute decoupling within limits has occurred, provide insights on developing resource efficiency policies in Europe and beyond. Full article
Open AccessArticle Economic Values and Resource Use
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 490; doi:10.3390/su8050490
Received: 11 January 2016 / Revised: 2 May 2016 / Accepted: 13 May 2016 / Published: 18 May 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1289 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Absolute decoupling of GDP growth from resource use implies that economic output can be increased without simultaneously increasing input. The essential meaning of this proposition is that the economic values that represent the GDP can be realized by increasing resource efficiency. Given that
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Absolute decoupling of GDP growth from resource use implies that economic output can be increased without simultaneously increasing input. The essential meaning of this proposition is that the economic values that represent the GDP can be realized by increasing resource efficiency. Given that the GDP is first and foremost a measure of economic activity rather than welfare the possibility of absolute decoupling is theoretically limited. This paper demonstrates theoretically and empirically that economic values at the macroeconomic level are fundamentally determined by the use of production factors, primarily labor and physical capital. Technical innovations or efficiency gains increasing utility without raising the costs of production do not add to the GDP unless they stimulate investments in physical capital. Hence the neoclassical notion of productivity is only found to be relevant as a microeconomic concept. In practice, GDP growth is mostly explained by capital accumulation and a key question is whether or not capital accumulation can be decoupled from the use of materials and energy. This will determine the possibility of decoupling of GDP growth from resource use and environmental impact. Alternative measures of progress focusing on welfare rather than economic activity are more likely to achieve absolute decoupling. Full article
Open AccessArticle Towards the Development of an Integrated Sustainability and Resilience Benefits Assessment Framework of Urban Green Growth Interventions
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 461; doi:10.3390/su8050461
Received: 18 February 2016 / Revised: 25 April 2016 / Accepted: 28 April 2016 / Published: 10 May 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (12066 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Considering the current emerging demographic, urbanization and climatic trends, integrating sustainability and resilience principles into urban development becomes a key priority for decision-makers worldwide. Local and national governments, project developers and other urban stakeholders dealing with the complexities of urban development need projects
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Considering the current emerging demographic, urbanization and climatic trends, integrating sustainability and resilience principles into urban development becomes a key priority for decision-makers worldwide. Local and national governments, project developers and other urban stakeholders dealing with the complexities of urban development need projects with clear structure and outcomes in order to inform decision-making and ensure sources of financing. The need for developing an integrated assessment methodology that would capture and quantify multiple urban sustainability and resilience benefits of projects in one common framework and eventually lead to verifiable sustainability and resilience outcomes is immense and challenging at the same time. The main objective of this paper is to present the development of a methodological approach that aims to integrate sustainability and resilience benefits, derived from the implementation of green growth urban projects, into a unified framework of criteria addressing environmental, social, economic and institutional perspectives. The proposed sustainability and resilience benefits assessment (SRBA) methodology is a combination of top down and bottom up approaches, including GIS-based scenario building. The different types of sustainability and resilience benefits of urban green growth projects are also identified at different levels (i.e., individual, neighborhood, city and global). Moreover, the proposed methodology creates scenarios that can be illustrated by a map-based approach to enable a better illustration and visualization of benefits. It demonstrates how a map-based approach can assess not only the extent of sustainability and resilience benefits accrued (how much is benefitted), but also their spatial distribution (who is benefitted). The main methodological challenges and issues on developing an integrated sustainability and resilience benefits assessment are identified and discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Policy Mixes to Achieve Absolute Decoupling: A Case Study of Municipal Waste Management
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 442; doi:10.3390/su8050442
Received: 10 February 2016 / Revised: 21 April 2016 / Accepted: 21 April 2016 / Published: 4 May 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1183 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Studying the effectiveness of environmental policies is of primary importance to address the unsustainable use of resources that threatens the entire society. Thus, the aim of this paper is to investigate on the effectiveness of environmental policy instruments to decouple waste generation and
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Studying the effectiveness of environmental policies is of primary importance to address the unsustainable use of resources that threatens the entire society. Thus, the aim of this paper is to investigate on the effectiveness of environmental policy instruments to decouple waste generation and landfilling from economic growth. In order to do so, the paper analyzes the case study of the Slovakian municipality of Palarikovo, which has drastically improved its waste management system between 2000 and 2012, through the utilization of differentiated waste taxes and awareness-raising and education campaigns, as well as targeting increased recycling and municipal composting. We find evidence of absolute decoupling for landfilled waste and waste generation, the latter being more limited in time and magnitude. These policy instruments could therefore play an important role in municipalities that are still lagging behind in waste management. More specifically, this policy mix was effective in moving away from landfilling, initiating recycling systems, and to some extent decreasing waste generation. Yet, a more explicit focus on waste prevention will be needed to address the entirety of the problem effectively. Full article
Open AccessArticle Integrated Economic and Environmental Assessment of Waste Policy Instruments
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 411; doi:10.3390/su8050411
Received: 26 January 2016 / Revised: 13 April 2016 / Accepted: 19 April 2016 / Published: 26 April 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1196 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The need for new policy instruments supporting the on-going transition from end-of-pipe waste treatment to resource management has been recognized in European policy. Instruments need to be carefully assessed before implementation to promote the desired changes and avoid problem shifting. Mathematical models may
[...] Read more.
The need for new policy instruments supporting the on-going transition from end-of-pipe waste treatment to resource management has been recognized in European policy. Instruments need to be carefully assessed before implementation to promote the desired changes and avoid problem shifting. Mathematical models may assist policy makers in such assessments. This paper presents a set of soft-linked models for assessing the economic and environmental impacts of policy instruments for both the prevention and management of waste and discusses its strengths and limitations. Consisting of (1) a macro-economic model, (2) a systems engineering model for waste management and (3) a life cycle assessment model for waste management, the set is primarily suited to assessing market-based instruments and environmental regulations. Considerable resources were needed for developing and using the set, and there are clear limits as to what can be addressed. However, if only one of the models had been used, neither the range of instruments nor the scope of impacts would have been possible to cover. Furthermore, soft-linked models allow many disciplines to contribute within one harmonized framework. Such integrated assessments may become increasingly useful for continuing the implementation of policy for sustainable governance of society’s material resources. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Systemic and Systematic Approach to the Development of a Policy Mix for Material Resource Efficiency
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 373; doi:10.3390/su8040373
Received: 7 February 2016 / Revised: 23 March 2016 / Accepted: 7 April 2016 / Published: 15 April 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2660 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Increasing material use efficiency is important to mitigate future supply risks and minimize environmental impacts associated with the production of the materials. The policy mix presented in this paper aims to contribute to reducing the use of virgin metals in the EU by
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Increasing material use efficiency is important to mitigate future supply risks and minimize environmental impacts associated with the production of the materials. The policy mix presented in this paper aims to contribute to reducing the use of virgin metals in the EU by 80% by 2050 without significant shifting of burdens to other material resources, environmental impacts, or parts of the world. We used a heuristic framework and a systems perspective for designing the policy mix that combines primary instruments designed to increase material efficiency, recycling and substitution of materials (a materials tax, the extended producer responsibility, technical regulations, and environmental taxes) and supportive instruments aimed to reduce barriers to implementing the primary instruments and to contribute towards the policy objectives (e.g., research and development support, and advanced recycling centers). Furthermore, instruments were designed so as to increase political feasibility: e.g., taxes were gradually increased as part of a green fiscal reform, and border-tax adjustments were introduced to reduce impacts on competitiveness. However, even in such a policy mix design ongoing ex-ante assessments indicate that the policy mix will be politically difficult to implement—and also fall short of achieving the 80% reduction target. Nonetheless, we suggest combining primary and supportive instruments into coherent and dynamic policy mixes as a promising step towards system reconfigurations for sustainability. Full article
Open AccessArticle Designing Policy Mixes for Resource Efficiency: The Role of Public Acceptability
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 366; doi:10.3390/su8040366
Received: 7 February 2016 / Revised: 23 March 2016 / Accepted: 7 April 2016 / Published: 13 April 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (232 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Where the public acceptability of a policy can influence its chance of success, it is important to anticipate and mitigate potential concerns. This paper applies search frequency analysis and a form of claims-making analysis to identify public acceptability concerns among fourteen policies proposed
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Where the public acceptability of a policy can influence its chance of success, it is important to anticipate and mitigate potential concerns. This paper applies search frequency analysis and a form of claims-making analysis to identify public acceptability concerns among fourteen policies proposed by the EU-funded DYNAMIX project to achieve EU resource efficiency. Key points of contention in the corresponding public discourses focus primarily on trust, fairness, effectiveness and cost. We use our findings to provide specific recommendations for the design and implementation of the proposed policy mix which are intended to improve the public acceptability of contentious aspects, and highlight some broader insights for policymakers. Full article
Open AccessArticle Input vs. Output Taxation—A DSGE Approach to Modelling Resource Decoupling
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 352; doi:10.3390/su8040352
Received: 8 February 2016 / Revised: 1 April 2016 / Accepted: 5 April 2016 / Published: 12 April 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3141 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental taxes constitute a crucial instrument aimed at reducing resource use through lower production losses, resource-leaner products, and more resource-efficient production processes. In this paper we focus on material use and apply a multi-sector dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model to study two
[...] Read more.
Environmental taxes constitute a crucial instrument aimed at reducing resource use through lower production losses, resource-leaner products, and more resource-efficient production processes. In this paper we focus on material use and apply a multi-sector dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model to study two types of taxation: tax on material inputs used by industry, energy, construction, and transport sectors, and tax on output of these sectors. We allow for endogenous adoption of resource-saving technologies. We calibrate the model for the EU27 area using an IO matrix. We consider taxation introduced from 2021 and simulate its impact until 2050. We compare the taxes along their ability to induce reduction in material use and raise revenue. We also consider the effect of spending this revenue on reduction of labour taxation. We find that input and output taxation create contrasting incentives and have opposite effects on resource efficiency. The material input tax induces investment in efficiency-improving technology which, in the long term, results in GDP and employment by 15%–20% higher than in the case of a comparable output tax. We also find that using revenues to reduce taxes on labour has stronger beneficial effects for the input tax. Full article
Open AccessArticle Using Scenarios to Assess Policy Mixes for Resource Efficiency and Eco-Innovation in Different Fiscal Policy Frameworks
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 309; doi:10.3390/su8040309
Received: 21 January 2016 / Revised: 11 March 2016 / Accepted: 23 March 2016 / Published: 26 March 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2332 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is no longer any doubt that the European Union needs to manage a transition towards a sustainable economy and society. The complexity of such an enterprise is creating major challenges that require a future oriented systemic approach, looking at the EU economy
[...] Read more.
There is no longer any doubt that the European Union needs to manage a transition towards a sustainable economy and society. The complexity of such an enterprise is creating major challenges that require a future oriented systemic approach, looking at the EU economy and society as a whole, and going beyond current agendas and policies. The purpose of the JRC foresight study “2035: Paths towards a sustainable EU economy” was to explore how this could be possible. Resource efficiency was at the core of the reflection. This created a context where the fiscal framework was perceived by the experts involved as essential in driving (or hindering) the evolution towards a more sustainable future. Societal values (individualistic or collaborative) were selected as the other axis around which to construct four scenarios. A large number of other drivers of change were taken into account to construct scenarios of a sufficient depth and detail to generate a systemic understanding. The scenarios were used in an original way to help experts identify which policy mixes would be best adapted to push each scenario towards a more sustainable future, while respecting its own logic and constraints. For each scenario, 6 policy domains considered the most relevant were selected among more than 50. Research and innovation, new business models and education were considered important for all four scenarios. The other domains were natural resources management, regulation, ethics, employment, transparency, governance, social protection, and systems integration. The study illustrates how powerful a policy framework which is fiscally supportive of environmental sustainability can be in supporting resource efficiency and that this can be achieved in very different ways depending on the prevailing social values. It also shows how a combination of actions in other policy areas can be used to drive sustainability further. In sum, this work illustrates how the creative use of foresight can help design policy mixes that can open the way to very different paths towards a sustainable future. Full article
Open AccessArticle Environmental Implications of Dynamic Policies on Food Consumption and Waste Handling in the European Union
Sustainability 2016, 8(3), 282; doi:10.3390/su8030282
Received: 29 January 2016 / Revised: 11 March 2016 / Accepted: 14 March 2016 / Published: 18 March 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1344 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study will review the environmental implications of dynamic policy objectives and instruments outlined in the European Union 7th Framework Programme (EU-FP7) Project DYNAmic policy MIXes for absolute decoupling of EU resource use from economic growth (DYNAMIX) to address reductions in food consumption,
[...] Read more.
This study will review the environmental implications of dynamic policy objectives and instruments outlined in the European Union 7th Framework Programme (EU-FP7) Project DYNAmic policy MIXes for absolute decoupling of EU resource use from economic growth (DYNAMIX) to address reductions in food consumption, food waste and a change in waste handling systems. The environmental implications of reductions in protein intake, food waste reductions, food waste management and donations are addressed using a life cycle approach to find the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land use and water consumption. Data are provided from the Statistics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAOSTAT) food balance sheets for the European Union (EU) with a base year of 2010 and life cycle inventory (LCI) data from a meta-study of available GHG, land use and water consumption data for major food products. The implications are reviewed using a number of scenarios for the years 2030 and 2050 assuming policy instruments are fully effective. Results indicate that reductions in animal-based protein consumption significantly reduce environmental impacts, followed thereafter by reductions in food waste (assuming this also reduces food consumption). Despite the positive implications the policy mixes may have for targets for decoupling, they are not enough to meet GHG emissions targets for the EU outlined in the DYNAMIX project, although land and water use have no significant change compared to 2010 levels. Full article

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview European Framework for the Diffusion of Biogas Uses: Emerging Technologies, Acceptance, Incentive Strategies, and Institutional-Regulatory Support
Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 298; doi:10.3390/su8040298
Received: 7 February 2016 / Revised: 21 March 2016 / Accepted: 22 March 2016 / Published: 24 March 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1059 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biogas will constitute a significant fraction of future power supply, since it is expected to contribute a large share of the EU renewable energy targets. Biogas, once produced, can be combusted in traditional boilers to provide heat, or to generate electricity. It can
[...] Read more.
Biogas will constitute a significant fraction of future power supply, since it is expected to contribute a large share of the EU renewable energy targets. Biogas, once produced, can be combusted in traditional boilers to provide heat, or to generate electricity. It can be used for the production of chemical compounds, or fed into a pipeline. This review paper will briefly analyze the current most promising emerging biogas technologies in the perspective of their potential uses, environmental benefits, and public acceptance; draw a picture of current conditions on the adoption of a biogas road map in the several EU Member States; analyze incentive and support policy implementation status and gaps; discuss non-technological barriers; and summarize proposed solutions to widen this energy’s use. Full article

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